Sunday, April 30, 2006

MLS Report
DC United 1 - FC Dallas 1

DC United hosted FC Dallas last night at RFK stadium, both teams sitting atop their conferences with 10 points and 3-0-1 records. United struck first in the 17th minute with a left footed strike by USA National team hopefull Ben Olsen to take a 1-0 lead. later in the first half, Ronnie O'Brien tied it up with a long ranged shot that beat Perkins in the 41st minute. After scoring his goal, O'Brien ran over to midfield and with the rest of his team, they all danced in front of Bara Brava and the Screaming Eagles. The second half of the match was more of a chess match, with a Bobby Boswell 62nd minute goal being disallowed for a phantom off-sides call, (at least from where I was sitting, Section 234, it looked like a phantom off-sides call), and the match ended up as a draw.

United looked very strong in defence as well as controlling the midfield. Dallas' defense is what kept them in the match and without them, they would have gone down 3-0 at least. United is next on the road this Saturday to play the Colorado Rapids, which is a 9:30pm match. FC Dallas next play at new in-state rival, Houston Dynamo.

One confused Galaxy

Thanks to the very nice people at Fado, I was able to catch the ESPN2 MLS Soccer Saturday match between the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake. LA won 3-2, however the match was much more than just the scoreline showed. Landon Donovan saved his club from the embarasment of losing to the worst club in the league. For the most part of this match, I felt that the Galaxy looked confuse and were very unsteady on defense.

Jason Kreis opened up the scoring in the 6th minute with a very clean goal off a cross from Andy Williams. Donovan then took advantage of disrupting an Eddie Pope pass to charge in on Scott Garlick alone and tie the match at 1-1 in the 11th minute. In the 26th minute, Donovan made a very nifty cross over cut to head up field before he released Chris Albright for a run up the right side of the field. Albright then sent in a cross directly into the 6 yeard box awaiting a loosely marked Cobi Jones for Cobi's first goal of the season. In the 60th minute Donovan again started the attack, this timepassing through to Herculez Gomez who ran in on an alone Scott Garlick and fired home his first goal of the 2006 season. RSL pulled one back in the 74th minute off of a Atiba Harris goal, but it wasn't enough and LA picked up its first away points of the season.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Summers Curse

I went to Summers Restaurant this morning to watch the Chelsea vs. Manchester United EPL match. It was fun to sit there and watch the match with some 30 other football fans. It wasn't fun to watch United forget how to finish the attack and have mental lapses in the defense. They fell horribly 3-0, are going to be tied for second with Liverpool (but with one game in hand over Liverpool) and to top it off, Wayne Rooney might have broken his right foot, which would be devistating for English football hopes going into the World Cup in Germany, in 41 days.

So why the Curse? Well, I have been to Summers 5 different times to watch a football match. My first experiance was the 2003 Carling Cup final, Manchester United vs. Liverpool. United lost that match, 2-0. I then came back that summer to watch the USA vs. Brazil match during the 2003 Confederations Cup. Granted, they played Brazil, but right after I got there, Gregg Berhalter made the one mistake of the match and Tim Howard was left helpless as Brazil scored. The USA lost 1-0. The third wonderful time I went to Summers was to watch DC United play a home game against the New England Revolution last season. This was the match that Clint Dempsy scored the game winner and did his "Home Run" celebration. United lost 4-3. Fourth trip to Summers was earlier in the EPL season for a noon match between Manchester United and Middlesbrough. Boro destryed United 4-1 and setup the whole Keane "You guys suck" MUtv interview. My last trip was this morning, and I already let you know the outcome.

Don't get me wrong, Summers is a great place to go. They support US football and they have Boddingtons on tap, you cannot ask for more. Well, I can, I can ask the Football Gods to stop shitting on me when I go to their fine establishment and beat my clubs. I like their place and will always be up for going back, just not when I have a football match to watch.

DC United plays FC Dallas tonight at RFK. I will be in the stands watching this one, not at Summers, so the curse should not hold with this match. Update on that match tomorrow.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Weekend Preview

EPL Preview
There really is only one match to be watched this weekend in the EPL, Chelsea hosting Manchester United. If Chelsea don't lose, they win their second straight EPL title. If Utd. win, they keep Chelsea from celebrating for one more week. Chelsea is undefeated at Stamford Bridge, but United have been able to step up for these important matches in the second half of the season, so it should be a great match to watch.

Chelsea vs. Manchester United
07:30am EST
Fox Soccer Channel
Prediction: Chelsea 1 Manchester United 2

MLS Preview
DC United host FC Dallas in a battle of the unbeatens. RFK Stadium will be the site of this early season clash of the titans. United (3-1-0) are riding a three match winning streak, and are coming into this match fresh off a 4-1 drubbing of Red Bull New York at Giants Stadium. United have scored 10 goals this season and have looked stronger in defense than most clubs this season. They look as if they are hitting mid season form already, which is good for them, but very bad for the rest of the league. Alecko Eskandarian has scored 3 goals this season, and Freddy Adu leads the club with 3 assists.

FC Dallas (3-1-0) are rolling into RFK with an equally impressive record and are fresh off a 2-1 win against previously undefeated Kansas City. Former Manchester United prospect Kenny Cooper scored the first goal in the 3rd minute, then the match went dull until the 93rd minute when KC scored on a very nicely played set piece, that Dallas muffed up defending. Right after the KC score, KC went back to sleep and allowed Aaron Pitchkolan to roll through their midfield and smash home the winner. Kenny Cooper leads the Hoops with 3 goals this season.

I did notice some things about FC Dallas' play that I think will play well into United's hands. First off, Ruiz is still not 100%. He is coming off of an hamstring injury and left last weeks match in the 73rd minute. It is still unknown if he can go the full 90 or even be a danger to United backline. The other thing I noticed is that FC Dallas as a club, have a temper. They had 3 cards last week, 2 yellow and 1 straight red for a reckless foul. The week before they had a MLS record tieing 6 cards. If United start to frustrate the Hoops players, I can imagine that the ref will be showing cards like it was going out of style.

DC United vs. FC Dallas
7:30pm EST
RFK Stadium/Comcast Sports Net
Prediction: DC United 2 - FC Dallas 1*

* - I won't be suprised with a 2-2 draw either.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

MLS Salary Listings

The Washington Post has released the 2006 salaries for MLS and I am a little shocked at the disparity. I am an IT Support Technician and I make more money that half the DC United roster. In the scope of global football, these are pretty tame, but in the scope of MLS, these are shocking.

Chivas USA's total salary is $3,604,403.
Houston Dynamo's total salary is $1,898,163.

Chivas USA's 2005 record: 4-6-22, 18 points, 6th in the Western Conference
Houston Dynamo's 2005 record: 18-10-4, 64 points, 1st in the Western Conference

Anyone else think that a refund should be in order from some of the Chivas players?

How can Clint "I need a shrink" Mathis be making $410,000 a year and Taylor Twellman, 2004 MLS MVP, be making below $200,000? No wonder Amado Guevara wants to leave NYC, he probably can't even afford to live there in the first place. I heard a story last season of how Troy Perkins, the current netminder for DC United, was working at a Dick's Sporting Goods until the team made him a full roster member. Perkins makes $29,400 and that is without working at Dick's. How does he afford to even live in the DC area? I would ask for my old job back at Dick's stocking shelves.

MLS wants to increase the playing style of the league, they want to have the league grow. How about they really start paying their players some money, instead of just a few of them? I wouldn't blame Clint Dempsy for bolting across the pond to play in Europe, his salary will at least double if he did. If MLS is really trying to keep American players in MLS, how about they start by giving them enough money to live in the US? They are talking about creating the "Marque Player rule?" How will that do anything other than just create more imbalance in the salary structures?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How to Strengthen Professional Soccer in America - Part 4:

Keep the league within our borders.
I have no problem with the city of Toronto. Major League Baseball at one time had two clubs north of the border and the NHL has several as well. The only major problem I have with MLS starting a new team in Canada is that in the global scheme of soccer, FIFA has everyone broken down by national boundaries. Having a Canadian based team in the US Top flight division of soccer poses some future questions.

Currently, MLS sends the top two teams in the previous season to the CONCACAF Champions Cup tournament, to play the representatives from the other CONCACAF nations; Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and so on. Those two teams represent the United States in this tournament. If in two years or so the Toronto club reaches the MLS Cup, under this format, they would take one of those two spots in the tournament, would they represent the United States? Will they play in the US Cup? Having the Toronto team play in the US Cup would be like having Rangers play in the FA Cup in England.

I can understand MLS’s position that they had a prospective group that had everything the MLS is requiring for entry into the league. They will get a soccer specific stadium and the cash injection from the club, but at what price? Rochester has had one of the most storied USL teams in its history and has on more than a few occasions, defeated MLS teams in the US Cup in recent years. MLS should have looked into ways to incorporate some of the already established professional soccer clubs in the US, rather than try and move into Canada for a start up team.

Granted that the original two teams didn’t last the first ten years, but maybe MLS should have thought to try and resurrect one of the two Florida clubs, the Mutiny of the Fusion? Miami FC just signed Romario on loan from his Brazilian club, so they must have some type of drawing power down there. (Note, his signing is regarded as a joke as he is forty years old and a shadow of the goal scorer who played in USA 94 and for Barcelona.) Considering the size of the USA, why not try and court new investors in the US, rather than head north?
Barcalona are off to Paris.

Barcelona finished off last season finalists, AC Milan, in the return leg of their Champions League Semi Final tie, by drawing with them 0-0, advancing in goals, 1-0. They will play Arsenal in Paris on the 17th of May.

As I had to observe on, I wasn't too thrilled with this match. Milan appeared to not even worry or press Barcelona until the second half, and didn't even keep the pressure up the whole half. I was expecting more of a blizt like Villarreal put Arsenal through yesterday. Oh well, they can always try and catch Juve and win the Scudetto.

As I have said before, I have Barcelona winning the whole thing this season.

Champions League Final Prediction:
Barcelona 3 Arsenal 1

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Alecko fined $250 for spitting on Field Turf.

Alecko Eskandarian was fined $250.00 today, a day after being named MLS Player fo the Week, for taking a swig of Red Bull, then spitting it out on the field right after scoring the first of his two goals against Red Bull New York on Saturday. For Alecko, $250 is probably not that much, it might. The biggest question to be asked is, why the fine? Was what he did wrong? No, he didn't harm anyone on the field. It wasn't like he ran up to a player and stomped on his foot or something.

This is a bad move from MLS. If they wanted to use this type of event to make a point, they should have suspended Alecko for the next match. This type of punishment would have made more an impact on the players in the rest of the league. A $250.00 fine, even with the small salaries of MLS, is not much. A game suspension, that will make both the players and the clubs aware that MLS is not going to take crap like this, even if what he did wasn't that bad.


Andrea Canales wrote a very good article about MLS's past performances in international competitions, on It outlines the idea that Garber & Co. have that creates a true Interliga between the Mexican First Division and Major League Soccer that would run during the seasons, and have the championship match alternate between the two nations.

I like this idea. I think having MLS teams play Mexican teams on a regular basis will improve the skillz of the MLS players. It will provide a good breather for the league, as playing both in the Interliga and MLS will provide for the players to get different cycled in and out of the line ups, much like what MLS is trying to do with the Reserve league, but being involved in matches with more meaning. This will also give more teams, other than the two previous MLS Cup clubs at the beginning of the season, a different focus for the season, much like how Liverpool decided to focus on their Champions League performance last season at the cost of some of their EPL matches.

Assuming MLS gets this idea off the ground, I feel that MLS and American soccer will benefit from this type of season long tournament. Now we just need to get the CONCACAF Champions Cup to start later in the MLS season.
Gunners Book Trip to Paris

Arsene Wenger and his club weather what looked like one helluva Villarreal storm to squeak out a 0-0 draw and have booked their spot in the 2006 Champions league Final in Paris on the 17th of May. Arsenal had something like 5 shots the entire match, 1 on goal. According to, Arsenal were only able to muster 38% of the possesion. This is one of those matches that Arsenal did just enough to get out with their scalp.

The biggest event happend right at the end of the match. The Referee awarded a penalty kick to Villarreal in the 89th minute, only to have Lehmann guess correctly and snuff out Riquelme's spot kick to save the draw. Wenger's head must have exploded when Lehmann saved the shot.

This saves Arsenal's season, really even if they don't get the title. However, if they do not win on the 17th and stay at their current location in the EPL table, they will be playing UEFA Cup play next season. Watch them pull a Liverpool and beat Barcelona or Milan, even better yet, down a goal or two.
MLS Updates released their Week 4 Power Rankings. Based on their 4-1 win over NY and their 1st Place standing in the East, DC United sit atop their Rankings. DC also sits atop the Supporters Shield Table, and can solidify that position this Saturday with a win over visiting FC Dallas.

Alecko Eskandarian was named the MLS Player of the Week. However, it may also turn out that this might be the first time that the MLS Player of the Week also gets fined. There are rumors circling Esky that he may be fined due to his "Spit-gate" performance with a can of Red Bull on Saturday.

DC United announced this week their Decade's Best XI players.

Another member of the Red Bull New York Front office left the club yesterday, Chris Canetti left his position as assistant general manager. Who is next in line?

UEFA Champions League

Today we find out one of the two clubs that will be in Paris on the 17th of May. I still think that Arsenal can do the business in Spain, and book themselves a trip "home" to Paris. They have a 1 goal lead, which if they play to a 0-0 tie, will still get them through. Villarreal, as I understand it, are very tough at home. This should be a pretty good match.

I personaly hope for an arsenal win. It almost hurts to say, as I am a Manchester United supporter, but I do not want to see an all Spanish final. I disliked the all Italian final several years ago when Milan and Juve went to penalty kicks at Old Trafford.

Tomorrow is Barcelona hosting Milan. That should go the same way as the first match did, with Barcelona winning out and heading off to Paris.

Monday, April 24, 2006

How to Strengthen Professional Soccer in America - Part 3:

Allow for a stoppage of play for the World Cup.
This is really a very simple suggestion. Have MLS stop play during the first two weeks of the World Cup. Most other top flight soccer leagues are faced with this decision due to the fact that they play during the end of summer, fall, winter and early spring season, instead of the early spring, summer, and fall season; which overlaps the World Cup schedule. This would allow for the loss of players for all teams who have players in their national team pools, without benefiting other teams.

After the World Cup in Germany this year, MLS will have had to operate during three World Cup seasons (1998, 2002, and 2006). I can understand during the 1998 season, MLS feeling that a month long pause in the play of the season could have hurt the league. That idea might have still been valid in 2002, considering the performance that the US team had in 1998, but as the league is now in its 11th season, the league is established and could survive a month pause. The NHL stops play during the Winter Olympics to allow its player the opportunity to represent their home nations in the Olympic tournament, why not have MLS allow the same type of thing every four years?

One way to do it would be to use the World Cup coverage as advertising for the league. The World Cup in the US is broadcast on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, the same national broadcast networks of MLS. MLS owns the broadcast rights for the English language presentations in the US, which means they can have their own commercial ads blitzed between the games on ESPN and ESPN2, as well as at half times.

A different idea that could be run along with the TV advertising blitz would be to get the teams involved in organizing viewing parties or other World Cup events in their markets, such as having the New York Red Bull’s sponsor several viewing parties for World Cup matches at different bars across the New York area. The LA Galaxy could host viewing parties at the Home Depot Center for the matches or at LA area sports bars. They could have raffles for MLS related merchandise such as Jersey’s or match balls. They could also give away match tickets to the first matches at the restart of MLS. Not only would it be a great environment to showcase the World Cup, but it would be a way to connect the World Cup to MLS, while MLS is not fighting with the World Cup matches for broadcast time or fan support.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

MLS Report
Red Bull New York vs. DC United; FC Dallas vs. Kansas City Report

Red Bull gives us wins! DC United down Red Bull New York 4-1 yesterday.

DC United went up the road to Giants Stadium and left with a 4-1 victory over the Red Bull New York club that still needs to figure out if they are a soccer club, or a day time soap opera. Alecko Eskandarian scored two goals, giving him three for this season (all against NY) to power United to the top spot in the East, remaining the only undeafted club in the East as Kansas City choked in the last seconds of stopage time today against FC Dallas. DC scored the same number of goals against New York as the Red Bulls have scored all season so far. Right now the Atlantic Cup looks to be staying at RFK for another season.

FC Dallas "Burn" Kansas City 2-1.

ESPN2 showed a second MLS match this weekend and with FSC not showing any matches this season, I sat down to watch FC Dallas vs. Kansas City. FC Dallas scored on a very scrappy 4th minute gaol by former Manchester United prospect Kenny Cooper. Between the 4th minute and the 92nd minute, the game was a very rather dull event to watch.

Chris Gbandi picked up a Red Card, so DC United will not see him next week, leaving Dallas to 10 menfor the final 22 minutes. Kansas City scored the equalizer in the 92nd minute, so I figured that DC would be tied with both teams all with 10 points each. Not maybe a minute later, Kansas City choked up a big goal. Eddie Johnson won the ball at midfield, yet stepped back from the ball, allowing Aaron Pitchkolan to just pick up the ball and head up field to only run into two more KC players. Neither of them stepped up to challenge Pitchkolan and he just head towards goal, took his shot and gave Dallas a 2-1 win.

FC Dallas won their match, but didn't show me that they are that dangerous a club. They have Kenny Cooper and Ruiz (if he is healthy) but I wasn't that impressed with them. Furthermore, they had three cards in the game, one being a straight red card. Looking forward to next saturdays match at RFK between DC United and FC Dallas, Ii have to think that the defensive style that United plays will do nothing but cause havoc for Dallas, and cause some of them to lose thier cool. Dallas had 6 yellow cards last week against Colorado.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Liverpool Dump Blues from FA Cup.

No Domestic Double for Chelsea this season. Liverpool defeated Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford today in the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup, setting up a chance for silverware for Liverpool in probably the longest season that their players could have ever dreamed of. Chelsea now only has the EPL Championship to look forward to this season, which will bring up some questions in Roman's World.

Will Chelsea's owner see this season as a failure, sonsidering that they didn't make the Carling Cup Final, were dumped out of the Champions League in the 2nd Round by Barcalona, have just been dumped from the FA Cup and will only (a very important only) come away with their second straight EPL Championship. They also won the Community Sheild at the beginning of the season, but, doesn't match with the other awards they were in contension for this season. This match result today might have been the final nail in some of their players Chelsea careers.

Good for Liverpool to make it to the FA Cup Final this season. They can finish their season on a high note after recording one of the worst Champions League Title defenses in history. They should be the favorite for the FA Cup Final in Cardiff, even though I am a Manchester united supporter, I will be rooting for them in the Final.
Arsene and the Gunners choke against 10 man Spurs

Arsenal played to a 1-1 tie against their in town rival, Tottenham, all but clinching 4th place for the Spurs. Robbie Keane scored for Spurs, and sub, yes, he was on the bench for this match, sub Henry scored for the Gunners. 4th place for Tottenham assures them of European football next season, but they still need to figure out which compatition as Arsenal are still alive in the Champions league. If Arsenal win the Champions League, yet stay at 5th in the EPL, 4th place Tottenham take the UEFA Cup slot and the defending champs get into the tournament.

Arsene Wenger stated before this match that this was their biggest EPL match of the season. Not only to decide their finishing place in teh EPL, but to close out Highbury and the North London Derby. So if he felt that this match was the biggest...why hold your best player and Captain on the bench? I understand that they have a 1 goal lead to defend this coming Tuesday in Spain against Villarreal, which if they win, they get a date in Paris on the 17th, most likely against Barcalona. Wenger, by keeping Henry on the bench, signaled that even with his comments before the match, the Champions League at this point in their season, is much higher priority for the Gunners. I would have to agree with him.

Oh well, Arsenal choked, they are most likely going to finish 5th in the EPL and have a good chance of making the 2006 Champions League final.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Match Preview: DC United @ Red Bull New York

DC United heads up I-95 tomorrow for a 4pm match against their Atlantic Cup foe, Red Bull New York. The match is live on ESPN2. Having played each other 3 weeks ago in the MLS opener, this game will be very interesting as it will be featuring two radicly different squads than the two that faced each other on April 2nd.

DC let in two goals in 18 minutes during the first half of the match. Since then, they have yet to be scored on, defeating Chivas USA 2-0 then shutting down the Houston Dynamo 2-0 last weekend. United has improved with every match they have played and look to be already hitting mid-season form.

Red Bull New York cannot claim the same form. They held a 2-0 lead going into the second half of the opener, only to allow United to tie the match in the second half. In their second match, they failed to find the goal and tied New England 0-0. Their third match again saw them taking the lead, 1-0, only to let in a late goal to tie Real Salt lake 1-1. Outside of their on-field performances has been the management 'cloud" that has settled over the Meadowlands as of late. Lalas left his post to head off to LA to run the Galaxy and Red Bull promoted Marc De Grandpre to the role of Managing Director of Red Bull New York. They also had to publicly assure their coach, Mo Johnston that he was not going to be made redundant and on the unemployment line, at least for now. Red Bull has also been making alot of noise about their future stadium plans, like maybe forgoing the Harrison Stadium to stay at the meadowlands, which they will never fill to capacity and look stupid playing in a half empty stadium.

Bigapplesoccer has an article covering how the Mo Johnston situation might not be as settled as Red Bull would like you to think. It seems that anytime United makes a trip up to the Meadowlands, a coach gets a pink slip. Hell, Mo got his job last season due to the 4-1 smackdown that United dropped on the Metro's (Red Bull) at the end of the season. Check out their story though, it is pretty good and it also is a very nice cronicle of how New York has been DC's bitch.

United are playing well, especially in the defense. Troy perkins has been commanding in the last two performances that he has given, especially against Houston. Boswell, Erpin and Prideaux held well and kept Houston's strikers well, keeping their main sniper, Ching, off the score sheet. Olson did well running in the midfield and Gomez, Moreno and to an extent, Freddy all did well causing problems for the Houston defense. Their performance on set plays was really good. They converted two of their chances and were able to be threatening all night. Their good play should continue this week against Red Bull New York.

Match prediction: Red Bulls 0 - United 2

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Interesting video.
Here is a home movie/documentry filmed from the season opener between DC United and Red Bull New York.

I was at this game, I took my girlfriend and her mother who was visiting from out of town. I did not see any of this, which is not to say that it didn't happen. Most likely, those who assaulted the Red Bull fans were drunk and probably not true fans of the sport in anycase.

I have been up to NYC for two DC United matches against the New York Metrostars (Red Bulls now). Neither time did I ever witness or experiance anything like this there. I hope that those assholes who were responsible for the assualts are brought to justice.
Yup, they did it, All Star Game vs. Chelsea

Chelsea were officially announced as the opponent for the MLS All Star's in the 2006 Sierra Mist All Star Game. You all know my opposition to this idea. I do have another question regarding this. They have announced that the match will take place on August 5th. The World Cup finishes on July 9th. Most of Chelsea's players (17 players, most in Europe) are going be involved with thier national sides, and after a full season of EPL play, FA Cup play, Carling Cup play and Champions League play, will Chelsea bring their entire squad?

Chelsea came over last year to play AC Milan and DC United in three matches, but that wasn't after a World Cup, so I am still wondering how they plan on giving their players a rest for the summer. If they do, will Jose be bringing a less than "best team money can buy" team? They are claiming that they will be bringing their full first squad, but I am sure that some will be left due to "injury."

Oh well, will this be called the Chicago Massacre or something?
We wait for now.

So we have about 2 hours until MLS makes their announcement, most likely announcing the Chelsea will play the MLS All Stars in this season's All Star match. Hopefully they are just going to annouce something else, but I doubt it.

On a side note, the USA moved up to #4 in the FIFA world rankings. I think the only matches that they played in between this rankings and the last were the following -
  • 1-0 Win over Poland in the blizzard.
  • 4-1 drumbing loss against Germany.
  • 1-1 tie against Jamacia.

So going 1-1-1 moves you up to 4th place? Sweet. if we go 1-2-0 in the first round in Germany, we should only fall to 7th or so then. Nice.

Well, I will be back after the announcement.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One Down, One To Go
Arsenal 1, Villarreal 0
Arsenal have taken a 1 goal lead into next weeks return leg of their Semi Final Match with Villarreal. I still think that they will make the final match, even though Villarreal seem to be very tough at home, as Arsenal are at Highbury.

In a related report, Arsenal's manager, Arsene Wenger, seems to want to lay claim to the Champions league trophy as a fitting farewell to their stadium of 93 years, Highbury, as they make their switch to their own commerical profit park next season. Hey, at least more Gunner supporters will be able to attend home matches next season.
More interested in a quick buck now....

So I checked out this morning as I always do and saw that Garber & Co. have a major announcement set for tomorrow in Chicago. I figured that they would be annoucing another "great" thing. However, I just read something that I hope is wrong about this, because if it is correct, then I feel that this isn't the greatest of things for this league in the long run.

We Call It Soccer is hypothesising that tomorrow's announcement is that the 2006 All-Star match will be the MLS All Stars vs. Chelski. If I were writing this at the same time last year, I would have said that I liked the All Star format that had foriegn clubs play the MLS All Stars, it gives great exposure to MLS to the foriegn leagues and such. Then the Massacare in Madrid happend and Real Madrid butchered the MLS Select team 5-0, with the only good thing coming from that entire debacle was the nice Pepsi black jerseys. I figured that would be a wake-up for MLS, namely Garber & Co. Do not have MLS select teams play foriegn clubs, especially when you tout the MLS team as our best players. The result could be devistating. Having Chicago play AC Milan and lose respectively 3-1 or DC United play Chelsea and lose 2-1, those are what MLS should be getting scheduled. They should not be sending MLS's "best" against a foriegn club, especially another one of those "best team money can buy" clubs.

My problem is this, MLS should begin to start touting the clubs as opposed to the league. I know that it is a single entity group, but they have been around for 10 years now and the clubs themselves are the lifeblood of the league. Without the clubs, the league dies. Having Barcelona make a deal with MLS to play a three game tour here this summer was a good idea. Having two of those matches against Mexican clubs here at MLS stadiums or US venues, bad idea. Having them play Red Bull New York, good idea. LA played Real Madrid last year and lost 2-0, and didn't have Donovan in the line-up if I am not mistaken. Why not have them play Barcelona, they are afterall, the defending MLS Cup Champions? Why not have Houston play them? They had the best record in the league last season? MLS should be touting the best teams, not the best players. Touting the best players these days does nothing for the league, except offer them up for transfers away from MLS.

If Chelsea wants to come over here for another USA Summer Tour, then have them do what they did last year, have them go to New York, LA and Chicago or DC again. Playing clubs that have chemistry would be a better test for them anyways, and a better way to prepare for their upcoming EPL season. They are probably just going to play the All Stars then leave, which would probably be a waste of time for their players.

Hopefully, Garber & Co. are not announcing the Chelski vs. MLS All Star team tomorrow. Please don't make that so.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ok, so I was wrong about the match today.

Barcelona won their away match at the San Siro today, 1-0. That is huge considering that Milan must now get a 2-0 result to win on the return leg at the Nou Camp. Milan had been down right tougher than nails at home before this. Even when they let that goal in, I expected to see a patented Milan scramble during the last ten minutes of the match to at least get a goal. Watching it on didn't make me feel like that was the case. Then again I could be wrong, seeing an internet text feed is worlds away from actually seeing the play on the field.

Well, my predictions for the final are this -

Barcelona over Arsenal in Paris.
How to Strengthen Professional Soccer in America - Part 2:

Make the MLS Season mean more for the teams.
Having each team play 28 matched just to eliminate four of the 12 teams in the league for a playoff spot of cheapens the regular season. In the other US sports leagues, the regular season eliminates most of the teams from the possibility of the playoffs, with MLS only removing a quarter of the teams. In the European leagues, they have their league’s lined up in a one table format, which eliminates the need for a playoff system, with the exception of the lower tier leagues using playoffs to determine who is promoted to the next level league.

So either MLS should only have the top two or three teams move onto the playoffs. They could have the top team in each conference receive a first round bye; to meet the winner of a home and away series between the second and third place teams, in a home and away series to determine who plays in the MLS Cup. This way it would give the teams that added incentive to clinch first place in their conference, instead of really just getting into the playoffs. The two top teams would get essentially two weeks to rest their players for the conference championship series, which could be huge at the end of the season. This alone would make the regular season mean much more for the playoffs than they currently do. This could also be expanded once the league expands to the 18 or 20 clubs that MLS wishes to grow to.

If MLS was to re-align the league into a single table format, it could very well eliminate the requirement for the playoffs, which would increase the requirement for the teams to play hard the entire season. American sports fans seem to not really understand a team sport that does not have a playoff system, which this removes the need for, thus possibly causing some confusion as to who wins the league championship. Hopefully, as American sports fans become more and more familiar with the league format and the importance of staying up top of the league, it should become less and less confusing for new fans.

Monday, April 17, 2006

English Premier League and Bobby Convey Artical

English Football
I just watched Manchester United finish off Tottemham 2-1, which means with 35 matches played, the Red Devils have 79 points, 6 ahead of Liverpool for second in the league and in the automatic qualifying spot for next seasons Champions League.

Chelsea won today as well, 3-0 over Everton, but due to United winning their match, they still have to wait for the official claiming of their second straight Prem Title.

Next week English football provides two really interesting matches.

First is the FA Cup Semi-Final being held at Old Trafford, which has Chelsea playing current European Champion Liverpool. This is Liverpools only chance for a trophy this season and Chealsea have declared that they will be dissatisfied with this season if they do not claim the domestic double (FA Cup and Prem title).

The second match is Arsenal hosting Tottenham at Highbury. That match should be a war for several reasons. Firstoff, these two teams hate each other. Second, if Tottenham win, they will be 7 points ahead of Arsenal for 4th place, effectively keeping Arsenal from finishing in the top 4of the Premiership and force Arsenal to win this season's Champions League title just to make it into the tournament next season. If Arsenal fail to finish 4th this season and fail to win the Champions League, they will play in the UEFA Cup next season, which does not provide as much revenue through TV rights or gate draw. If they win the Champions League and still fail to make top 4, they will still play in the Champions league next season, and the 4th place team will play UEFA Cup ball next season. This should be a very tense and hard fought match.

USA Soccer has a really good article about Bobby Convey, former DC United Midfielder and current rising star for Reading FC in England. It is a very good sign that another main stream US news publication is highlighting the US players, it only helps increase the visability of the sport in the US.

Alexi Lalas is moving jobs, again. He has resigned from his postion of running the front office of Red Bull New York in favor of taking over control of the LA Galaxy. Some said that when Red Bull took over the NY club, he would be on borrowed time. However, I think that unless forced out, this is a bad move. He had the chance to really get things going up there in NY with an ownership group that has proven already that they want to build that club up. Now he is going to be the boss of the very man who he complained about as a player in France 98, Steve Sampson. That should be interesting.

Everything Else
Tomorrow is Leg 1 of the Champions League Semi-Finals, with AC Milan hosting Barcelona. In my opinion, this should have been the matchup for the final. This is a world class match. Two of the strongest, most historical clubs in European Football. These two matches should be completely awesome to watch as football fans. I predict that Barcelona wins the two legs and goes on to the finals. They might not win tomorrow, but they will get an away goal which when they return to Nou Camp, will be like money in the bank.
Prediction: AC Milan 2 - Barcelona 1

Sunday, April 16, 2006

DC United Match report.

DC United played the Houston Dynamo last night at RFK Stadium and finished their 3 game home stand with a 2-0 victory. They have started the season 2-1-0 and have 7 points, putting them in second place in the Eastern Conference of MLS, 2 behind Kansas City and 3 ahead of New England.

Their play last night was ok, but composed. Their defense was very strong, with the exception of a few minor gafs that didn't do them any harm. Troy Perkins put on the strongest performance I have ever seen him give. He commanded his goal area much better than he did in the first match against Red Bull New York. He was strong in the air and held onto some tough balls.

DC's special teams, if their is sucha thing in soccer, was very good. Both goals were scored via free kicks. That is always a good sign for a team that when they get into a set piece play, they almost always execute. Gomez is a master at this.

Houston did a good job at keeping Gomez from running the offense, having Serioux basically ride him the whole match. DC is going to have this happen more and more in MLS as teams work to stall their offensive machine. This is were Freddy Adu really needs to step up and serve as the second playmaker of the team. I watched him run up and down the right side of the field last night. There were times that he looked like he was unsure how far up the field he should be going. There was one play were the red "Dorothy, there's no place like home" shoed Moreno picked up a ball at midfield and started the attack, with Freddy on his right. Freddy had plenty of space to run up ahead of Moreno to give him time to pass it up ahead. Instead Freddy just hung back and did not either match Moreno's pace, or run ahead of him, as he should have. Moreno still passed him the ball, only to have Freddy pass it back to Boswell or someone in the back. He did have some good moments that show his field vision and is skillz, which this kid has definately got. He just needs to have faster reactions to the moment.

Overall, it was a strong match for United. They put together a very solid defensive effort and were able to convert two set plays, and send the Dynamo home without any points. I had a great time at the match. The stadium didn't have as many people as they did for the home opener, but the crowd was still energetic and the Screaming Eagles and Bara Brava are always, always, a great sourse of fan support for the club.

Next week United head up to the Swamp, Giants Stadium, to take on Red Bull New York, who have only picked up 3 points in their last 3 matches. Should be an interesting affair, as both teams usually play well against the other, as they hate each other.

Friday, April 14, 2006

How to Strengthen US Professional Soccer.

These are several ideas or suggestions that could provide positive steps for strengthening the state of professional soccer in the United States. I will post different ideas over the next couple of days.

1. Create a season kick off event.
Several countries have events that kick off their professional seasons, which would be a good idea for the US. England has the Community Shield, in which the previous Premier League Champion plays the winner of the FA Cup at the Millennium Stadium or Wembley Stadium. Germany holds a four team tournament, consisting of the top four teams from the Bundesliga, one versus four, two versus three. This is an event that has no bearing in the regular season, as the Community Shield match, but both create a certain buzz for the impending season. Both types of events are sponsored by the Football Associations of their countries.

In the US, we could try and have something along the same lines of either event. If we tried to go along the English path, we could have the US Soccer Federation create a kick off match that starts the professional season for MLS and maybe even the USL. The participants could either be the previous season MLS Champion taking on the previous season’s US Cup Champion. A different idea would be to have the MLS Champion versus the USL Champion, which would give some very main stream exposure to that league. They could call it the Federation Cup or get a commercial sponsorship for the match, someone like Kraft or Budweiser.

A different idea would be to have either four teams from MLS compete in a pre-season tournament. One way they could do it is to have the top four teams from the previous season play each other, along the same lines of the German pre-season tournament. They can either decide to use the MLS Cup results or they could take the regular season results, or take the top two regular season teams and group them with the two teams that compete in the MLS Cup match, if they are four different teams. Another idea would be to have the two MLS Cup teams play against the top two teams from the USL, which again, would provide some mainstream exposure for the USL. It could be called the American Cup or such.

If either of these ideas were to be considered, I feel that they would be able to add the type of experience that MLS is trying to get with the beginning of its season, and has tried to do with its All Star game. The one match idea I think would fit better for the US market, get it played at either the Home Depot Center or Crew Stadium or Dallas Stadium. It could be rotated along the lines of the MLS Cup, maybe the location of the previous seasons MLS Cup hosts the Federation Cup. The match could be televised on ABC or ESPN2 which would provide the national coverage that would help with the marketing of the league as well as provide the springboard for the start of the season.
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